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    Canadian Press: Privacy commissioner questions security of health records after doctors die

    The Canadian Press reports on the issue of patients’ medical data privacy and security after the death or retirement of a doctor.

    Gary Dickson has seen abandoned medical records turn up in some pretty bizarre places in his time as Saskatchewan’s privacy commissioner – mouldy basements, drafty Quonset huts, vacant buildings.

    He argues that more needs to be done to protect sensitive, personal health information left behind when a doctor retires or dies. Increasingly across Canada, he says, no appropriate arrangements have been made to turn records over to another doctor or to an approved archive. […]

    When a doctor dies in Saskatchewan, the representative of the estate – typically a widow or a child – has the same obligations the doctor had when it comes to records. But that person may not know what that entails, especially when it comes to keeping files secure or allowing patients access. […]

    Even worse, Dickson says, are the records that are just abandoned. His office has had calls about thousands of abandoned medical documents in at least four different Saskatchewan communities over the last several years. […]

    Alberta has taken legislative action to tackle the problem.

    The Health Professions Amendment Act puts the onus on professional colleges to deal with medical records. However, the legislation is not yet in force. […]

    An official with the Saskatchewan Health Ministry says the province would consider changing existing legislation to ensure records are protected. The ministry is currently working with the college of physicians to find a better solution, says Jacqueline Messer-Lepage, the ministry’s health information director.

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